from The Cow Suit
True there are limits My room, its slats, last edges of sleep, the pink crease where dream and dawn meet Dawn’s reach, thinnest gold grasses, dimmest shrub, blackest tree past the wood’s black, what I can imagine How far I could widen the slats, inch forward in halves, divide room into room till the room cracks to make room, push an eye through the gap pull the skins back They seem seamless but even the cows spill gray shapes from their sides even the shade finds relief in dark grooves, in the deepness in things that moves as light moves over the field believing each line, each turn, every arrived-at ending
COSTUME OR NOT A COSTUME
The game is costume or not a costume Each day, fresh sights appear between the slats Some move synchronously and others off-beat and that one not at all Who among them does not belong? It is hard to grasp, but almost always I spy a loose thread or tag snagging an ear Every sight has a secret stairwell so it seems In here it is all false buttons and knobs so possibly the stairs lead to nothing Mom comes home, sheds her work clothes and disappears At dawn she departs, trailing threads I dare not grasp Still I cannot contain myself when the sights refresh daily The vibrant blip, and swap places with the dull It pops open my snaps! It maddens, to wonder who among them does not belong If one could have a secret in another room
COSTUME OR NOT A COSTUME
Like the dandelions— One stares at the sun and becomes it Strains each featherish ray till all the field gawks skyward The day appears, twitching invisibly as I twitch dawn to daybreak, noon to highest noon I eye these hundred suns fattening the field with milkish sap— One gets carried away, whites out one’s eye—starry ball bursts Starry bloom—sky upon sky it unravels, clouds dispersing Like bird swarm, even dusk comes wearing my star-scattered hide
Lately Mom has been attracting flies standing stock-still on the green From a distance you’d think she’s unfeeling But when her figure reels into the foreground you can see them twitching her skins I love to see Mom up close covered in flies twitching her skins in small spasms They swarm her watery eye, buzzing green on its surface I imagine them swarming my own eye and my ears flick in soft rhythms It’s like Mom’s face is on mine, humming shivery songs I could watch as Mom spasms for days humming along with her face But the longer I gaze, the louder the swarm in my eye The flies, brash beads that flash eyes just like Mom’s Floating on each, the green curved at its edges and gleaming
Ashley Colley’s poems have appeared in Orion, Colorado Review, jubilat, Prelude, Black Warrior Review, New Delta Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Memphis.